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Taylor Swift’s Lover book accused of ripping off elements of earlier poetry collection

By | Published on Thursday 25 August 2022

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has been sued yet again over allegations that she has ripped off another creator’s work. Though this time it’s not a song-theft lawsuit. Instead, writer Teresa La Dart claims that a book that accompanied a deluxe version of Swift’s 2019 ‘Lover’ album contains various creative elements in common with a book of poetry she published in 2010, also called ‘Lover’.

But what elements in particular? Well, says La Dart’s lawsuit, the two books both follow “substantially the same format of a recollection of past years memorialised in a combination of written and pictorial components within a book”.

They also have “a substantially similar cover format, with the author photographed in a downward pose, and colour scheme (pastel pinks and blues) with the same title … with substantially the same introduction page formats with a similarly styled ‘Lover’ title, as well as an earlier photograph of the author in a nature setting and turned to the right and an accompanying forward with substantially similar greetings and wishes for the reader”.

Is that it? Hell no. The two publications have “a substantially similar inner book design with interspersed photographs and writings throughout the body thereof … a substantially similar back cover format, with the author photographed in an upward pose (juxtaposed with the front cover pose), and, again, a substantially similar colour scheme (pastel pinks and blues)”.

“Stylistically”, the lawsuit concludes, “the Swift ‘Lover’ book includes creative elements that are not typical of or present within other published books and – as compared with the La Dart work – leaves an overall impression that the Swift ‘Lover’ book is, again, substantially similar in terms of the above-noted design elements as those within the La Dart work”.

So, basically, there are a number of similarities between these two ‘Lover’ books other than than the name. But, even if La Dart could show that Swift and/or her team had seen the earlier book prior to putting together their book – or even if it could be proven that the later book was deliberately based on the older book – are any of those creative elements shared by the two publications protected by copyright?

Names and titles do not usually enjoy copyright protection, so the fact the two books are both called ‘Lover’ is not relevant. Copyright also doesn’t protect mere concepts. It does protect artistic works – and that can include graphic design – though the various similarities identified in the lawsuit do seem too generic to suggest that the Swift team ripped off a specific copyright protected artistic work contained in La Dart’s book.

But nevertheless, a legal rep for La Dart told Billboard: “My client feels strongly about her position and the full comparison of both books side-by-side would provide a clearer view. This filing was not taken lightly”.

The Swift team will presumably seek to get this case quickly dismissed by arguing that the creative elements shared by the two books are simply too generic to be protected by copyright. Whether the ‘clearer view’ promised if the two books are put side-by-side will convince a judge otherwise remains to be seen.